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  • Posted December 14th, 2015

    Take back the city – if you’re not “proud that London is the natural habitat of the billionaire”

    Take back the city – if you’re not “proud that London is the natural habitat of the billionaire”

    People of Britain, are you proud that your capital city is geared towards attracting billionaires (that’s a quote by Boris Johnson by the way)?

    What’s wrong with billionaires (as if I need to tell you)?

    1. Property: people who actually do useful work in the city (rather than gambling with imaginary money) are being squeezed out as average monthly rents continue to rise (£1500 and counting at the moment), whilst at the same time London shifts more properties over $5 million than New York and Hong Kong combined.
    2. Exploitative: you don’t become a billionaire without exploiting other people; the billionaire’s world is a world of sweatshops, zero hours contracts, financial crashes with accompanying foreclosures and job losses. It’s other people’s work that makes someone a billionaire, not their own.
    3. Unsustainable: the kind of economy that produces billionaires is based on competition and maximising growth and profits, and that’s an economy that is impossible to reconcile with nature. Nature has limits and a competitive, growth-maximising and profit-driven economy will inevitably transgress those limits.
    4. Undemocratic: that much money damages our democracy. do you think that a billionaire has the same influence over political decisions as you? Billionaires are able to pump a lot of money into our political systems to corrupt it, to employ an army of corporate lobbyists, and to cultivate personal friendships with government ministers, from which will come the inevitable ‘revolving door’ job offers. This is not by any stretch of the imagination democracy.

    We’d prefer a system that didn’t allow people to become billionaires – a system where no-one profits from anyone else’s work but their own. In other words, a system of self-employment, co-operative, community-owned, open source and peer-to-peer enterprises. A system like this produces many times more jobs than a billionaire-driven corporate system; no-one is an exploiter, no-one is exploited. If you ever hear it said that billionaires bring jobs in their wake, or that we need the corporate sector to deliver employment, point them to this report by the National Retail Planning Forum. It found that in a catchment of 15km around 93 new superstores, around 10,000 new jobs were created and 35,000 jobs destroyed – a net loss of 25,000 jobs (full-time equivalent). Each new superstore means the loss of 276 full-time equivalent jobs.

    If you’re not proud that London is the natural habitat of the billionaire, here’s an interesting initiative.

    Take Back the City are putting together a democratically-constructed People’s Manifesto, from meetings with the public, and putting forward candidates for London Mayor and the London Assembly in 2016. Some of the things that have come out of the meetings include affordable housing, a living wage for London and cheap or free public transport.

    Here are their principles.

    Here’s what you can do:

    1. Nominate yourself as a Take Back the City candidate for the London Assembly. You need to collect 50 signatures in support of your candidacy and agree with their principles – go here.
    2. Help them find £12,500 to cover the costs of standing candidates – there will be a crowdfunding campaign in January.
    3. Vote for Take Back the City candidates next year.

    Movements like this have taken power in several Spanish cities, and we think it’s an idea that’s well worth supporting over here. Do you consider yourself a potential candidate? Do you know anyone else who could be? Let as many Londoners know as you can.

    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


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